Sickles Avenue, Gettysburg, PA

Status: Historical Civil War Battlefield


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Photo Courtesy of Historically Spooking

On July 2, 1863, “Devil’s Den” became the epicenter of a rather brutal & bloody battle. Originally a local legend, the rock formations were named by the locals who once believed the cracks & crevices were home to an enormous black snake, who they had nicknamed “The Devil”.

On the morning of July 2, this rock formation would live up to its name, when more than 5,000 soldiers from nine different states converged on arguably Gettysburg’s strangest place. It’s described by the American Battlefield Trust as “a place barren of tree or shrub and almost destitute of any green thing.” On this day, Union 3rd Corps commander, Major General Daniel Sickles decided he was unhappy with the position he was ordered to, thus leading him to move his corps forward as the Southern forces moved into position on Warfield Ridge.

Thousands of Rebels began the treacherous advance over massive rocks & rough terrain, being rained down on by Union sharpshooters & artillery fire at their front. Confederate Major General John Bell Hood’s lines began to crack, but it wouldn’t be much longer until 3,100 Southerners smashed into 2,400 Northerner’s at Devil’s Den.

Photo Courtesy of Historically Spooking

Formerly known as Houck’s Ridge, the Union line prepared for the oncoming attack from the Confederate Texans, Arkansans and the Alabamians under General Hood. A small regiment from New York charged the Texans but was eventually forced to fall back once the Alabamians arrived on the flank. The Confederates swarmed the cannons on the crest, but with the artillery bombardment coming from their front, it was much too dangerous to stay there.

With the arrival of Brigadier General Henry Benning & his Georgia brigade, they bolstered the Southern line & were met with soldiers from four Northern states. The Georgians busted through the Union line, causing the Union to abandon their position on Devil’s Den, surrendering three cannons & the crest.

However, as all of this conspired, the Union left flank had just become established on another rocky hill called Little Round Top. The Confederates had gained significant ground, but still had yet to break the center of the Union forces now entrenched on the high ground. (the same ground that Confederate General Richard S. Ewell had been ordered to take if practicable the day before.)

This site alone would see more than 1,800 men killed, wounded, captured or missing. Devil’s Den would go down in history as one of the most brutal engagements during the battle of Gettysburg. This spot has been a favorite of mine with each of the visits I take to the National Military Park, & each trip has ended with several of my own unexplainable experiences. Tourists from all over have claimed to see ghostly soldiers wandering around the formation of rocks, some in the middle of the night. 

Photo Courtesy of Historically Spooking

One of the most common occurrences at Devil’s Den is in the sharpshooter’s nest behind the rocks (see photo above). Many people have tried taking photos of this spot, only to discover the photos are missing, somehow manipulated or are just a black screen. I personally believe that this is caused by an unidentified soldier who was photographed some 100+ times, & the photographer moved his body around to each spot to capture images. I think all of that has caused him to remain at Devil’s Den, & quite possibly the constant snapping of photos irks him from time to time. Before I ever take a photo at this spot, I ask for his permission. That might seem strange to the normal person, but I feel like it’s the most respectful thing I can do after he gave so much. I tell him that I mean no disrespect & I don’t wish to be like the photographer who moved his body so many times. (Upon my last attempt of research, the soldier was believed to have been from a Georgia Regiment, but no name has yet been discussed).

Photo Courtesy of Historically Spooking

 Another paranormal story that hails from Devil’s Den is one of the lost hunters. It’s said that the hunters had gotten lost somewhere around Devil’s Den & while they were searching for their way out, an apparition appeared on one of the largest boulders. They claimed that the mystery man began pointing to a specific area that just so happened to be their way out. When the hunters turned around to thank the man, he had disappeared.

Photo Courtesy of Historically Spooking

This ghost isn’t the only one that has supposedly helped tourists find their way around. A shoeless entity has been seen around Devil’s Den, helping tourists seek out the directions they need. Many people believe that this ghost in particular has been captured in photos that go all the way back to the 1970’s & that he was from one of the Texas Regiments who fought in the rocks. One story that adds to the validity of this ghost story comes from a woman who got lost while she was hiking in the boulder-strewn land. She began to get nervous while trying to find a way out, when suddenly a figure appeared to her & said, “what you’re looking for is over there”. As soon as he had appeared, he vanished. The woman went & eventually told park rangers what she had seen & the rangers were in shock. She had perfectly described to them what a Texas soldier would have looked like during the Battle of Gettysburg.

One of my very own experiences at Devil’s Den is seeing a soldier hiding between the rocks. This happened last year in November when I went on a road trip with my sister. On the first day, I showed her each of the important spots during the battle & the next morning, I showed her Devil’s Den. We had been talking about the fighting that had taken place in & around the rocks & she wanted to take a picture to send to our mom. We each sat down on one of the bigger rocks & I put my phone in my zip-up hoodie pocket & kept my hand around it so it wouldn’t fall out. While taking the picture, I heard something slide down the rocks & when I looked down, my phone had somehow come out of my pocket & was causing the noise. It slid between one of the smallest cracks possible & by the time I had realized it, it was too late. I came down from the rocks & found an opening, thinking I might be able to get at least my arm through to feel for it. Wrong. I crawled into the opening & peered between the rocks, but I didn’t see my phone, all I could see was a figure dressed in grey hiding his face in his arm. I couldn’t make out many details because it was so dark, almost cave like, but I know what I saw & there’s no possible way it was a living human that was tucked away where he was.